How manufacturing expert Michael Saiger became the region’s unsung protector when supplies were running critically low.
Few events in history can bring a world together, showing humankind’s ability to respond to a disaster. One recent event is the COVID-19 pandemic, a global event that connected the world in deeper ways than was imaginable. And one such man not only united the world, but helped keep it safer.
Entrepreneur Michael Saiger says a colleague flagged an urgent Twitter post from the British government in the early moments of the pandemic. The government was issuing calls for help because its existing supply chains for personal protective equipment couldn’t be relied upon to meet critical demands. U.K. health-care workers were reaching a point where supplies for PPE were running low, and there were little options available to stay guarded against the contagious virus.
After reading the calls for help, Saiger acted immediately. The business leader reached out to his vast contacts in the manufacturing industry to assemble a supply chain capable of quickly creating and distributing PPE – including hand sanitizer, medical and non-medical-grade masks, wipes, gloves, face shields, gowns and goggles – en masse.
With nearly two decades of expertly sourcing, producing and distributing high-quality goods, Saiger felt that if anyone could solve the deficiency that the U.K. government would soon experience, then it was him. Saiger, whose background in manufacturing came into prominence after founding the jewelry and accessories brand Miansai in 2008, has become a leader in global manufacturing, obtaining materials at best value from reputable factories in Asia, and creating an extensive network of contacts in that region. His history of working at an accelerated pace with sourcing jewelry materials translated well when needing to source PPE materials, a feat he did thanks to an agile and nimble perspective.
“The core concepts of connecting with factories, moving along manufacturing, establishing supply lines and distributing products for PPE were similar to the methods I’ve done with Miansai,” Saiger says. “We were able to move rapidly and delivered PPE to the U.K. with speed, quality and value at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Though Saiger admits the highly competitive market and challenging climate that the pandemic presented proved arduous, he soon became the recipient of a number of initial contracts to his newest business, Saiger LLC (DBA Laif.Works). The U.K. government has said Laif.Works’ quote was one of the most affordable available and considered to be highly competitive.
Even after the awarding of the contracts, the challenges kept mounting. Like most organizations during the pandemic, Laif.Works’ factories became overbooked. Saiger then strategically placed certain Laif.Works members in Asia to establish personal relationships – becoming important links to the entire process – in order to ensure quality products were delivered with priority time and in accordance to the rapid production schedules and scale set by the U.K. government.
As with any type of business, a measurement of success includes whether it is able to have repeat customers. If that’s the case, then it can be said that Laif.Works was extremely successful: The U.K. government commissioned Laif.Works to procure more PPE after the initial contracts. In total, Laif.Works was awarded six contracts over 18 months of the pandemic, totaling $334 million – providing millions of pieces of PPE to the U.K., at a lower-than-average cost quoted by other bidders.
“Providing PPE to the U.K. government and its health-care workers in a short and critical time span, and to the scale that was needed, was unlike any experience I’ve ever been a part of,” Saiger says. “But it’s been a truly rewarding experience, one that I would do over and over again to ensure the health and wellness of doctors, nurses and hospital staff were never compromised.”This article was written in cooperation with The Eclectic Agency